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The former Princess Theater will be remembered as part of Berlin's history.


Memories of The Princess Theatre



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Courtesy photo The Princess Theatre in its heyday. (click for larger version)
January 08, 2014
BERLIN – During a time before VCR's, DVD's, and Blue Rays, theaters were very popular. At the turn of the 20th Century, motion pictures and Hollywood were sweeping the nation. One of three theaters in Berlin was part of the scene, and the era of The Princess Theatre has now come to an end.

Some may have had their first kiss there. Some may have watched their favorite new movie release. Memories of fresh buttered popcorn and candy may flush the mind. Whatever the case, the former Princess Theater leaves many with fond memories.

Around a century after the theater opened, the building of the former Princess Theatre on lower Main Street was destroyed at the end of 2013 by arsonists. On Dec. 13, a fire was reported around 6:30 p.m. at the building and firefighters battled the flames for almost seven hours in minus 12 degree conditions with a chill factor of minus 30 degrees. The building is still standing but is considered a total loss. Two juvenile suspects were taken into custody on Dec. 17.

100 years ago, the building for the theater was constructed as part of Green Square on Main Street. During the golden age of Hollywood, on October 29, 1914, the Princess Theater had its grand opening with a feature from Paramount and a singing act performed by five women called the Pilgrim Quintet. According to some old Berlin Reporter clippings, the theater was packed wall to wall and most arrived via the trolley service.

After 30 years of success, the theater closed in July 1943 and didn't reopen under new management until 1957 by John E. Voudoukas. He had the theater remodeled with a new sound system, a cinemascope screen, air conditioning and a recreation room. It now had a 500 seating capacity with three floors and was considered one of the most modern theaters in New England.

The first theater in Berlin, The Albert Theater, was built in 1907, followed by The Gem Theater 1909 (later converted into a bowling alley). In 1939, The Strand Theater was built. By 1961, The Princess was the only one that remained in operation.

On May 2, 1957, the Princess had its grand reopening at 6 p.m. and showed off its new appearance. There were two set times for two films, the first at 6 p.m., and the second at 8: 45 p.m. For years the theater thrived, and later on, new management converted it into two and was renamed the Royal Twin Theater.

In 2009, new management took over and returned the former name, The Princess Theater. It was an attempt to once again offer a movie experience outside of the realm of DVD's and blue rays which dominated the scene. TBA Theaters soon took over in another attempt but officially closed in September of 2011.

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